Buzz-Killers: Time to Bee the Change and to Ban Pesticides

Amongst all wild pollinators, there are over 600 species of wild bees, including leafcutter bees and mining bees. All play the most crucial role in maintaining the balance of our ecosystems. Yet, every year in Switzerland, billions of bees are affected by the use of pesticides. Right now, campaigns aimed at protecting wild pollinators mainly focus on the impacts of pesticides on biodiversity and human public health. Regrettably, no campaigning efforts are ever directed towards wild and honey bees’ welfare or pesticides’ harm on individual bees.

Pesticides have significant negative impacts on both wild and domesticated bees. These substances leave bees feeling …

… disoriented, with an altered sense of taste and smell. Due to the effects of toxins, bees lose their memory of food sources, their immune system becomes more susceptible to infections because of exposure, and certain toxins even impair male reproductive organs, leading to reduced reproductive ability. Pesticides also harm bees indirectly by causing a decline in plant diversity, resulting in fewer flowers available to bees.

Bee species exhibit signs of cognitive and behavioural traits associated with sentience and consciousness. Both wild and domesticated pollinators demonstrate complex learning and navigation skills, as well as long-term memory recall as they fly to find food. At Sentience, we believe that bees should not suffer unnecessarily from the use of pesticides. Therefore, we are asking for a stronger political representation of bee species.

Help us by signing our petition today and raise your voice for nature’s little helpers.

3'144out of 4'000 signatures
RUTH R.vor 11 Minuten
Petra Z.vor 52 Minuten
Adrian Thomas L.vor 2 Stunden
Anne L.vor 2 Stunden
Anita K.vor 2 Stunden
Jeanette F.vor 3 Stunden
I help bees
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Petition

1

Development of a reduction plan for pesticides from the groups of pyrethroids (e.g., cypermethrin and deltamethrin) and neonicotinoids (e.g., clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam)

2

Increased consideration of the role of wild bees (and pollinators) in city and urban planning (creation of natural green spaces, water bodies, as well as green roofs and facades)

3

Enhanced implementation of flowering strips (as well as the promotion of research in the area of seed mixtures to support the well-being of wild pollinators)

4

Stricter regulations on the use of mower conditioners, splinters and related equipment

5

Construction and maintenance of species-appropriate nesting sites for various species of wild bees

Organisations

In collaboration with IG Wilde Biene

Supporting organisations

Starting point

Although the brain of bees is only the size of a pinhead, it contains a million neurons. The neuronal density of their brain – an indicator of intelligence – is therefore 10 times greater than that of a mammalian brain. Honey bees, for example, have a “rich inner world”: they can problem-solve and experience various emotional states. They communicate through the “honey bee dance” to inform members of the colony of the location of food sources. These pollinators recognise human faces and are even able to count!

Despite the fact that wild bees are less studied than honey bees, they too have …

… highly developed learning abilities and exhibit fascinating behaviours. Leafcutter bees, for instance, have been observed removing plant foliage in semi-circular patterns to form their nests; whilst mining bees create burrows in sandy or bare soil. Other species collect tree resin and plant hairs for their nest construction or nest in empty snail shells. Despite these impressive facts, bees at large are still misunderstood, underestimated, and therefore deprived of the protection that they deserve.

Wild bees, with their pollination services, are a key driver of biodiversity and are essential for our food security. Yet, their health and overall well-being are jeopardised by an external factor: pesticides. These substances alter bees’ sense of taste and smell, leave them feeling disoriented and reduce their reproductive abilities. Pesticides have a direct impact on the physiology and behaviour of bees, as well as on their habitats and the availability of food sources.

At Sentience, we believe that bees’ unnecessary suffering must be avoided. This is why we are calling for a ban on specific pesticides, and for the adoption of a whole new holistic approach to bees’ welfare.

Challenges

The ecological and human public health impacts of pesticides are widely recognized. However, the repercussions of excessive pesticide use on bees’ overall health and welfare are often overlooked. Most pesticides have life-threatening or fatal consequences for bees. This can happen through direct contact during plant treatment or through exposure to contaminated pollen and nectar. Moreover, 70 % of all wild bee species nest in the ground, making them susceptible to pesticides not only through direct contact with plants, but also via runoff in water and soil.

Pesticides are harmful to both domesticated and wild pollinators, to both eusocial and solitary creatures. For instance, when honey bees …

… come into contact with pesticides, their ability to recognise bees foreign to the hive is impaired. Pesticides weaken bees’ immune systems, which increases their susceptibility to infections by pathogens. Pesticides’ impact on wild bees is often overlooked, and the risk they pose to wild bees is underestimated. Many substances contribute to a decrease in wild bee density, in solitary bee nesting and in bumblebee colony growth and reproduction.

It is up to policymakers to chart the right path today to ensure that the buzzing of Swiss bees does not fall silent forever. By developing targeted support measures and a strategy to reduce harmful pesticides, we can turn the tide now.

Solutions

In recent years, a series of alternatives to pesticides that are less harmful to non-target organisms such as wild and domesticated bees have emerged. Agroecology and organic farming which promote biodiversity and limit the use of chemicals, are two approaches to reducing our reliance on toxic substances. The development of new crop varieties with natural resistance to “pests”, or the creation of flowering strips and small structures which promote the presence of “beneficial organisms” are also alternatives to the use of pesticides.

Habits such as suspending pesticide use when plants are in flower, mowing lawns less regularly, or avoiding mower conditioners, splinters and mulching equipment – which harm bees up to seven times more than other equipment – are also important in our collective effort to protect domesticated bees and other wild pollinators.

By signing our petition today, you contribute to fostering a dialogue with all stakeholders concerned about the well-being of bees and other wild pollinators.

Kampagne Unsichtbare Tiere

This petition is part of the “Invisible Animals” campaign

The “Invisible Animals” campaign has emerged from the understanding that the interests and needs of pigeons, rats, bees and fish receive little to no attention, both politically and socially.

The goal of our campaign is to bring the daily suffering of these animals into the spotlight because, at Sentience, we are convinced that even minor adjustments to the political framework can have a significant positive effect: for the animals, the environment as well as public health.

Together, we can make the suffering of “invisible” animals visible and ensure that their interests receive stronger political consideration now and in the future. It all starts with your signature.